Crowman and Wolfboy (not Crowboy and Wolfman, as much I keep typing it that way and correcting it) is a side-scrolling platformer/runner hybrid. The titular characters run, jump and slash their way over holes, through bushes and ultimately away from a giant shadow formed by monsters who chase after them to keep them from leaving the shadow world. To keep the shadow at bay, Crowman and Wolfboy collect light orbs as they escape, picking up any young monsters they can to take with them to a happier life. You start out only able to run, but quickly pick up abilities that both characters use to navigate the stage. Crowman learns to jump, Wolfboy learns to attack, and so forth.
The stages can be challenging and well-paced, although one thing you really need to get used to is the running. At the start of each stage, Crowman and Wolfboy will be standing still and won’t move until you direct them. This can make you feel like you’re controlling their movement at all times. You will be surprised, however, the first time you let go of the directional pad and find that Crowman and Wolfboy just keep running. It can be difficult getting the hang of this at first, as it feels like your controls are locked, when really you just have to integrate an infinite runner mindset to the platformer elements of the game. Collecting monster babies can be fun or terrible depending on your point of view, as some cannot be collected the first time through and you will have to return after learning a new move.
My favorite part of the game is actually the characters themselves. The setting is simple and Crowman and Wolfboy don’t talk, but small actions were included in their animations that indicate what they are like and what kind of relationship they have. Wolfboy often looks more fearsome, while Crowman looks afraid. When Wolfboy attacks too many times, he gets tired and Crowman holds his back to keep him going. Whenever you discover a new move, the two high five each other in triumph. These little nods to their personalities add a charm that I always love to find in video games. These guys are good friends, and they just want something less nasty out of life than what the shadows have in store for them.
In addition, the sound design is wonderful. The music and sound effects are subtle and often provide an ambiance that rounds out the setting. Grabbing light orbs is both useful and soothing, with each one causing a jack-in-the-box tone. The one complaint I have with the sound is that when you die, the main theme starts playing again and it comes off as too loud. A smooth transition or a tweak to the volume would be nice.
You may consider Crowman and Wolfboy a bit superfluous, as there are plenty of running/jumping games out there that you don’t play. I get that. However, if you’re looking for a platformer or a runner with a good aesthetic behind it, I recommend this game. The theme of shadowy pursuit with an undertone of triumphant escape is very well executed for such an inexpensive game. Crowman and Wolfboy, from Wither Studios, is available on Steam for $3.99. Take a look!